Friday, 23 March 2012

Something very suspicious

The right to self defence in the UK is very much enshrined in case law. That means there is no specific formal statute that lays down an easy to follow continuum of force so that us citizens can carry an abridged, wallet-sized aide memoire version of it in case we need to get ugly with some pain in the arse who is hassling us or wandering about the neighbourhood looking suspicious.  NB: Hard to find a legal definition of `suspicious` too. Not so in Florida, so it seems.

English law does sort of define this in respect of the offence of assault, creating a rather nebulous guideline that suggests when an assault on the person of another may be deemed justifiable ie. in self defence, defence of ones property etc. but all it says is that the force used must be reasonable and proportionate. Perhaps keeping it simple is the right way to go? The litmus test is usually left to the courts to decide but in all cases hitherto, the law Lords have always expected there to have been a degree of retreat until it is not reasonable to retreat any more, before force to defend is applied. As for defending the homestead, I always explained to my students that if the householder clobbered the burglar on the way in,(that's reasonably clobbered) there would be a far better chance of having it deemed justifiable than if the clobbering took place as said burglar was exiting the premises, as far more explanation would be required. I always had my own reasons and excuses well sorted in my mind, well in advance of any encounters.

 It is, therefore, a very bright, nay blinding spotlight that currently focusses on this.  And to cap it all, the very last thing that the community over there needs right now, in my humble opinion, is this.

I hope the Home Office's bright young reforming things take this into account when they sit down together and plan the re-structuring of the police service, especially the bit where they want to offload some of it to privateers.

I also hope old Clem, our local neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, doesn't get any ideas. The last thing the village needs is a lone wannabe avenger patrolling with his pitchfork and rabbiting lamp.

22 comments:

JuliaM said...

"The litmus test is usually left to the courts to decide but in all cases hitherto, the law Lords have always expected there to have been a degree of retreat until it is not reasonable to retreat any more, before force to defend is applied. "

And yet, in another US case also mentioned in the 'Guardian', the notion of retreating is apparently 'unfair'.

I can't quite put my finger on why... ;)

sparkflash said...

About 14 years ago I was working on a building site with an Afrikaans welder.

"Back home, you want to shoot somebody, be sure to leave his body inside your property. Nice and legal then, my friend," he said, tapping the side of his nose, "nice and legal...".

Jesus.

On the other hand, should someone (Tony Martin) happen to shoot someone engaged in burglary of his home, I would ignore the legal aspect and cite Darwin, and a moral responsibilty to remove anyone from the gene-pool, stupid enough to break into a farmers house. Honestly now, you can't be letting them procreate!

Everyone and his dog knows farmers have guns. Don't want to get shot by a farmer? It's a simple enough choice.

Blue Eyes said...

Every time a pathetic government promises to reform the law on self defence I start to feel very unwell. It's pretty neat already and easy to conform to.

You are allowed to defend yourself, you aren't allowed to go beyond defending yourself.

I can only imagine the horrific mess of the statute that attempted to codify that simple statement.

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM:
"...he kept two guns within reach at all times in their home, even while he watching television...." Is that love, actually?

Spark`:
and I think the rules were even simpler if it involved a `blick`.

Blue:
Come the time, I'm quite happy to argue my perception of what is `reasonable`. I shudder at the thought of legislation being drafted.

CI-Roller Dude said...

We Yanks are totally confused. We have 50 STATES! Each state his it's own laws, and own court ruling....and then...we have counties in each state that may have their own ideas....like in California- we have 52 counties- each is like a seperate state...
So, when the average citizen sees a case law in the news from another state, they don't know if it applies to them or not...and then we have the attornies...who are just practicing law and haven't mastered it yet.

Hogdayafternoon said...

CI-RD: Thanks for wading in to this boggy one!

All I think I can say is, "Know thine enemy (it's the law)"

JuliaM said...

" Is that love, actually?"

Heh! It's a sign that you may not want to have children with this man.

Or change the channel without permission... ;)

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM:
What was it we were saying about automatic weapons yesterday???

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9163767/Russian-banker-shot-six-times-had-testified-over-murder-plot.html

Anonymous said...

Having seen the reports of the press conference and the people who have appeared down in Florida 'I predict a riot'.
Ex

DerekP said...

"...if the householder clobbered the burglar on the way in,(that's reasonably clobbered) there would be a far better chance of having it deemed justifiable than if the clobbering took place as said burglar was exiting the premises..."

People, if you are ever on a jury, please do not accept this faulty logic, otherwise every armed (screwdriver, crowbar?) intruder will simply claim they were a burglar leaving the premises and that therefore the householder in fear of his life should be prosecuted for violence.

Likewise, if you are such a householder and are prosecuted, if your solicitor/barrister recommends you make a guilty plea the chances are you have a Leftie Progressive lawyer who is not acting in your best interests, and would probably not make the best case for you in front of a jury either.

If you wait until the weapons are out of the intruder's hands and he is carrying a dvd player, that is perfectly reasonable, is it not - why would you increase the danger to yourself when having to deal with an armed intruder?

Is he supposed to be a 'licenced burglar'? No, that would be ridiculous, so he cannot really be considered a burglar until he has completely left the premises with his loot and driven off without harming anyone - before that his full intentions are not known no matter what he may claim, so householder violence to render the armed intruder completely helpless is justified.

His carrying loot towards the exit may simply be him piling up or loading goods ready for a quick getaway in case of determined resistance to his violent intentions. He is the deliberate intruder, it is for him to explain himself, not for the alarmed reactive householder.

Quartermaster said...

The business in Florida conducted by Zimmerman was rather stupid. He seemed to be out playing, as we say in the colonies, "Junior G-man." The problem with prosecuting him is the only witness is now room temperature. There is no prima facie case against him, so unless there's something else on him that has yet to be discovered, he'll walk.

One thing the prosecutors could hang something on is the fact the kid he shot was unarmed.

As you can imagine, the usual racial hustlers have been out in force. The "Reverend" Sharpton, who is a felon himself, and would be convicted if the New York City prosecutor had any gumption at all, is in up to his eye balls in the matter.

I'm glad I live in the US (yes, I am well armed and dangerous men are never unarmed, just as a wimp with a weapon is still a wimp) and can defend myself with deadly force if need be, but I seriously doubt that Zimmerman is innocent in this mess.

JuliaM said...

"... but I seriously doubt that Zimmerman is innocent in this mess."

I rather doubt that Trayvon is, either, unarmed or not.

But yes, it's looking like riots are on the cards.

The Kusabi said...

Every time a pathetic government promises to reform the law on self defence I start to feel very unwell. It's pretty neat already and easy to conform to.

You are allowed to defend yourself, you aren't allowed to go beyond defending yourself.


Funny that, the CPS always promise us that not being of the mindset required to 'conform' to a 'required standard' won't count against us when it comes to deciding whether to prosecute...that if we're in fear for our safety we're not expected to weigh up to a nicety how much force we should use so as not to hurt the criminal too much...but of course, they then go and decide that 'defending ourselves' counts as 'going beyond defending ourselves', a.k.a. exploiting a loophole to gain a desired result (like the bastards they are).

So yes, there is a need to do away with the inadequate 'reasonable force' standard, which exists only because the authorities want leeway to catch people out, to replace it with one guaranteeing criminals no protection against forceful self-defence in the event they pose a clear or potential threat to anyone. That means no prosecuting people because you felt poor widdle burglar/mugger got hurt too bad.

Of course, if you feel the authorities not setting out to be bastards to people using force against those committing a crime against them, makes them 'pathetic', and the thought of victims not being royally shafted for the sake of their attackers 'makes you feel unwell', no doubt you'll feel that violent thugs not having the risk of being violent to others mitigated by people being expected to 'conform' to the 'reasonable force' standard is grossly unfair to said thugs.

Hogdayafternoon said...

So you see, it's all down to being reasonable after all. As Derek P said, the logic is faulty, but that `logic` came from a succession of case law ie from Judge's. QED?

The Kusabi said...

No, if they don't want to prosecute people for self-defence, as they claim, they don't need to have a 'reasonable force' standard. THAT'S what it boils down to.

DerekP said...

The Kusabi
[Sarc]
Such is their level of intellect and education (it's the Latin - h/t Peter Cook) that lawyers and judges are obviously capable:
- of being woken from a deep alcohol-induced slumber to full alertness and reason in the blink of any eye;
- to instantly understand the full nature of any possible threat (without any training);
- to subdue with a minimum of force any threat from an unknown number of prepared, armed intruders (while they themselves are barefoot and in pajamas, without any physical training, preparation, weapons or assistance).

I am just so full of admiration for them (puke, spit), but I'm not sure everyone can meet their high standards.
[/Sarc]

Of course, they can just assume their level of capability, as they never live near or get to experience any real trouble.

So I'm guessing we'd have a much better justice system if, in order to go into criminal law, these lawyers had to first spend three years as a front-line copper in one of the ten most violent cities in the UK; failure to complete the three years by being kicked out or quitting with tail between legs disqualifies from becoming a criminal barrister or judge regardless of how rich you are or who your daddy is.

Hogdayafternoon said...

@DerekP: A fine proposal. I know just the chap
http://hogday-afternoon.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/here-come-da-f-judge.html

Justthisguy said...

Hog, here is a blog post from an old internet acquaintance, an actual lawyer licensed to practice here in Flarduh (he lives in the next county)

Please see: http://toolsofrenewal.com/?p=7019

Steve is an interesting guy. His undergrad degree is in physics and he goes out to his machine shop to pray. A right strange lawyer he is, but a good one, I believe.

Hogdayafternoon said...

JTG: Interesting piece. I liked it. Thanks.

Hogdayafternoon said...

JTG: Interesting piece. I liked it. Thanks.

Justthisguy said...

Yep, I liked the part where he said something like, " I'd have to get out the books and study them a bit before I could render a legal opinion actually worth paying for."

Justthisguy said...

Oh, another thing. Steve attends a church which may be even weirder than mine (mine is straight Trad. Anglican, run out of Rwanda, until recently)

Steve's church is some kind of weird Evangelical Semi-Baptist Pentecostal thing, and is majority-Black, as in Sub-Saharan African. Steve is a White guy, and is in charge of Pizza Preparation, and the Security Team.

Yes, the church is in a Bad Part of Town, and some of the parishioners arm themselves and guard the place during services.

Considering the Day, and what Jesus said the night before, it's Ok for some Christians to keep a sword handy.

Oh, as a policeman, you should have celebrated last night! It was the anniversary of the first plastic surgery in Western History, when Jesus stuck the ear back onto that copper, sliced off by an over-enthusiastic disciple!